Gateway to the Classics: Will o' the Wasps by Margaret Warner Morley
Will o' the Wasps by  Margaret Warner Morley

Queens and Drones

"D OES the hornet make only worker cells?" Theodore asked his Uncle Will one day. "Where do the queens come from?"

"What do you think about it?" enquired Uncle Will.

"I suppose," said Theodore, laughing, "that there are queen cells and maybe drone cells, the way it is in a bee hive."

"Exactly so," said Uncle Will. "Perhaps if we examine our cut open nest a little more carefully we shall get some light on the subject."

So they went into the house and examined the nest.

"Look," said Uncle Will, "are the cells all the same size?"

"No," said Theodore, carefully examining the layers of cells inside the nest. "The upper sets have small cells. Down towards the bottom, here in the lowest layer, the cells are much larger, at least some are, those around the edge."

"Those large ones," said Uncle Will, "are the queen cells. Those next in size, behind the queen cells, are the drone cells."

"I suppose," said Theodore, "the drones are the males."

"Yes," assented Uncle Will, "the drones are the males. It is with the wasps about as it is with the bumble bees. After the young queens and the drones hatch out late in the season and have mated, the drones and workers die, and the queens find a snug place in which to pass the winter. In the spring out they come—"

"And do it all over again," concluded Theodore.

"Yes, that is it, out they come and do it all over again, from a to ampersand."

"The wasps must use their cells over and over again," said Theodore, still looking at the cut-open nest; "because if they didn't the nest isn't big enough to hatch out a whole swarm of hornets."

"They do use the cells over and over again," said Uncle Will. "Just as soon as the hornet hatches out, the cell it had occupied is cleaned and put in order—fresh sheets on the beds, nice clean pillow slips, new woolen blankets—"

"Oh, Uncle Will!" protested Theodore.

"Well anyway it is all nicely cleaned out, and the queen mother comes right away and puts a new egg in it."

"Do the wasps feed the queens a different kind of food from what they feed the workers, the way the bees do?" Theodore asked, and Uncle Will answered,—

"I think it must be so, else why should the queens be different from the workers?"

"The workers are undeveloped females that do not lay eggs," said Theodore, thinking of the bees, "and the queens are perfect females that do lay eggs."

"Right you are," said Uncle Will, "the poor drones are nothing but helpless males with not a sting to save themselves with."

"Workers and queens have stings but drones have none," said Theodore; and then suddenly he thought of something and asked, "Did you say the wasps do not have long tongues that fold up like bees' tongues?"

"We will see about that next time," said Uncle Will.

 Table of Contents  |  Index  |  Home  | Previous: The Yellow Jackets  |  Next: Wasp Flowers
Copyright (c) 2005 - 2023   Yesterday's Classics, LLC. All Rights Reserved.